Combating Terrorism:

Use of National Guard Response Teams Is Unclear

NSIAD-99-110: Published: May 21, 1999. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 1999.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the creation of 10 National Guard Rapid Assessment and Initial Detection (RAID) teams, focusing on: (1) obtaining the views of federal, state, and local officials regarding the role of RAID teams in response plans; (2) determining whether there are other federal, state, or local government entities that can perform similar functions to the RAID teams; and (3) evaluating the RAID teams' roles and responsibilities and how the teams plan to meet these responsibilities.

GAO noted that: (1) GAO had previously reported that the many and increasing number of participants and programs in the evolving terrorism area across the federal government pose a difficult management and coordination challenge to avoid program duplication, fragmentation, and gaps; (2) while the Department of Defense has defined the specific mission for the RAID teams, the plans for the teams and their implementation continue to evolve; (3) GAO found that there are differing views on the role and use of RAID teams and how they will fit into state and federal plans to respond to weapons of mass destruction; (4) Army officials believe the teams can be a valuable asset to federal authorities, if needed, as part of the federal response plan; (5) they also believe that the teams will be a critical and integral part of the state and local response to such weapons; (6) officials with the two agencies responsible for managing the federal response to terrorist incidents--the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)--do not see a role for the RAID teams in the federal response; (7) instead, they see the National Guard, whether in state or federal status, providing its traditional assistance in emergencies; (8) differing views also exist at the state level; (9) officials in states without a RAID team do not see how the teams can benefit their states' response capabilities because of the time it takes the RAID teams to respond; (10) however, one state official does see the RAID team bringing some expertise that could be useful; (11) there are numerous local, state, and federal organizations that can perform similar functions to the RAID teams; (12) in addition, there are numerous military and federal civilian organizations that can help local incident commanders deal with weapons of mass destruction incidents by providing advice, technical experts, and equipment; (13) GAO's discussions with local, state, and federal officials surfaced a number of concerns, such as recruiting and retention, training, and operational issues, that could impact the teams' abilities to meet their mission and responsibilities; and (14) these issues further point to the need for a more focused and coordinated approach to the U.S. response to attacks involving weapons of mass destruction--an approach that capitalizes on existing capabilities, minimizes unnecessary duplication of activities and programs, and focuses funding on the highest priority requirements.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No action has been taken.

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider restricting the use of appropriated funds for additional RAID teams until the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-Terrorism completes a reassessment.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No action has been taken.

    Recommendation: The National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-Terrorism, in consultation with the Attorney General, the Director, FEMA, and the Secretary of Defense, should reassess the need for the RAID teams in light of the numerous local, state, and federal organizations that can provide similar functions and submit the results of this reassessment to Congress. If the teams are needed, the National Coordinator should direct a test of the RAID team concept in the initial 10 states to determine how the teams can best fit into coordinated state and federal response plans and whether the teams can effectively perform their functions. If the RAID teams are not needed, they should be inactivated.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: National Security Council: National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-Terrorism

 

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